nowing that Jesus was about to leave probably provoked in the disciples feelings of insecurity and fear. They could not see beyond to even the immediate future. They were like the African impala, which can jump to a height of more than 10 feet and cover a distance greater than 30 feet, but which can be kept in a compound with a three-foot wall because it will not jump if it cannot see where it will land. Jesus was trying to take the disciples to greater heights in ministry and relationship, but they were afraid of heights. Only trust in Jesus could overcome the fear and anxieties that entrapped them.
All that God requires of us is simple trust—to drop into His arms with all our weaknesses, brokenness, and imperfections. Jesus will help the helpless and strengthen and build up those who feel they are weakness itself (see Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, p. 98).
What is this trust? It has been defined as complete assurance and certitude regarding the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something. It is indicative of confidence, dependence, faith, hope, and reliance. Trust in scriptural contexts typically indicates a blend of belief and faith.
Trust in Jesus
The Old Testament is replete with portraits of trust in God and admonitions to trust in God. The wise man advises us: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Prov. 3:5, 6). David declares, “In God I trust; I will not be afraid” (Ps. 56:4). And Isaiah 26:3 tells us that God will keep us in perfect peace if we trust in Him. God has proven to be worthy of trust. Because of His oneness with God, Jesus says we can trust Him, as well. He assures us that if we have seen Him we have seen the Father, for Jesus also is God.
Our family understands this concept. Our grandson is the image of his father, our son. When visitors to our home see photographs of our grandson and of his father at his age, they believe that the photographs are of the same person. They further expect the son to be like the father and trust that he will behave as the father. In Jesus we see God loving us. In Jesus we see God caring for us. In Jesus we see God upon the cross saving us. Jesus said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). We can trust Him.
Journey of Trust
Jesus has walked where we walk and completed the journey successfully. A colleague took my husband and me on a Sabbath afternoon outing. When the invitation came I immediately formed a vision of this outing. For me this would be an excursion across the open plains and into the gently rolling hills that surrounded the church in which we had worshipped that morning. My colleague, however, had a distinctly different perspective on the afternoon’s activity. All went well for miles as we wove our way across the plains and into the low hills. We enjoyed the natural beauty of the land, which was being washed by a gentle rain. We enjoyed the fellowship with one another and with Christ that afternoon. Then things changed. We came face-to-face with one of the steepest mountains in the midwestern region of the United States. Our four-wheel vehicle took a sudden and unexpected turn upward, and to my total dismay, we began a steep ascent—but I had not signed on for this! You see, I have acrophobia—a fear of heights. What should I do? Perhaps I could just get out and wait for the group to return to the base of the mountain.
My colleague-driver assured me that all would be fine. He acclaimed with great enthusiasm the thrill of viewing the world from the upper heights. He extolled the magnificence of the terrain and the sky when viewed from the elevated destination. So, we traveled upward for several more levels. As we scaled the narrow, steep trail on the side of the mountain, I pretended that we were not climbing by avoiding the downward glance. I surveyed the close-up mountainside on my right and the far distant landscape on the left. As we moved I whispered in my mind to my confused body that all was well. But my body yelled back that I was falling and that my heart would cease beating any moment. Yet we climbed even higher.
Finally, I began to relax. I decided that this would not be the place of my death after all. Comfort came in realizing that the driver was indeed capable of bringing us safely through this journey and that he understood my condition. His reports of past successful trips over that same trail encouraged me. The driver was trustworthy, and the trail was sure.
Then the unthinkable happened. Three young men coming down the mountain warned us of an obstacle—a stranded vehicle on the trail just at the next turn. The trail did not seem wide enough for all four wheels of a second vehicle to pass. We could no longer rely on the trail. We had to rely solely on the driver, and he got us through.
My faith grew, and I trusted the driver completely with my life. I had confidence in him because he had traveled this dangerous trail many times before and had not erred once. He understood the challenges and the limits of the journey. He had proven himself skillful. What’s more, he was thoroughly familiar with the vehicle, for he had taken it apart and rebuilt it with his own hands. In addition, he had a burden to deliver us to safe ground. It is my pleasure to report that he did just that. Although I still have acrophobia, I would take this journey again, willingly, with this same driver—this trustworthy friend.
Although this is a true story—and a story of trust—we can apply allegoric interpretation to magnify its lessons. The colleague-driver is named Michael, both literally and symbolically. I represent the fearful Christian travelers in the journey of life who are afraid to follow the Lord as high as He would take them. The steep, narrow trail is the Christian path through life, and Michael’s vehicle is God’s kingdom, in which we travel. The mountain represents challenges and dangers we face. The stranded vehicle represents Satan’s obstacles. The young men are those God sends to warn other travelers of impending danger and to demonstrate that we can overcome no matter what Satan puts in our path.
Questions for Reflection
1. What fears hinder me from reaching the height that the Lord wants me to attain?
2. In what way or ways is trust like a journey?
Today we are assailed with images of violence and strife, acts of terrorism, natural disasters and tragedies, wars and conflicts, diseases and scourges. We see breakdowns in the marriage union and governments that break covenants with their people. It is no wonder that human hearts fail them for fear. But Christians have a hope in which we can trust (see Titus 2:13). Jesus is whatever we need. He says, I am (1) the Bread of Life; (2) the Light of the world; (3) the gate; (4) the Good Shepherd; (5) the resurrection and the life; (6) the Way, the truth, and the life; and (7) the True Vine. (See John 6:48; 8:12; 10:9, 11; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1.) Trusting Him means that deep in our hearts we acknowledge that He is who He says He is.
When Jesus calls us to the Christian journey, He has a plan for us, a plan that far exceeds those we envision for ourselves. We hold a limited view of the Christian journey of both its dangers and its rewards. Yet, if we trust Him, Jesus will take us to heights unknown in this journey toward eternal life.
“Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid” (Isa. 12:2). We simply have to rely on Him. Trust Jesus in times of trials; trust Him in times of difficulties; trust Him in times of affliction; trust Him when we make mistakes; trust Him when we have failed; trust Him in our joy. Trusting Him is an indispensable aspect of our hope.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me” (John 14:1).
Ella Simmons is a general vice president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.